How the Treaty of Versailles Led to WWII - Paper Sample

Published: 2022-12-21
How the Treaty of Versailles Led to WWII - Paper Sample
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  World War 2 War Hitler World War 1 Treaty of Versailles
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1452 words
13 min read

World War I started in 1914 and ended four years later in 1918. The war was mainly fought in the Western and Eastern parts causing many deaths A year after the war, the dignitaries of the victor side met in Paris to deliberate the terms of the peace, followed by the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The signing was led by the United States, Italy, Great Britain, and France. Each of the partners had their objectives in the signing. Though countries like the US pushed for a principled outlook of national self-determination and collective responsibility, France was driven by the need to avenge. The revenge aspect is largely attributed to the humiliating loss it encountered in the Franco-Prussian war that resulted in the unification of Germany. The treaty caused Germany to give up territory and caused severe economic consequences which deteriorated due to the depression of the 1930s. It is clear that the treaty largely aimed at weakening Germany which only permitted the rise of fascism and Hitler in Germany. The combination of these factors built up the grievances leading to World War II. This paper seeks to expound on how the Treaty of Versailles led to World War II.

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The claim of territory formed the basis of World War II. The treaty of Versailles was responsible for stirring this claim at it had ensured Germany lost a significant proportion of its territory. The treaty made German to surrender territory which was then distributed to other countries or used some of it to form new countries. Areas such as the Saar Basin and Upper Silesia were given to France and Poland. Poland also received Danzig. Some of the other territories that were curved away included Eupen-Malmedy which was awarded to Belgium, Alsace Lorraine to France, North Schleswig to Denmark and West Prussia which went to Poland and became known as the Polish Corridor. Additionally, the treaty also stipulated that all colonies held by Germany be ceded to the Allies as well Two nation was created from the partition of Germany namely, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Austria was created from what had been Austria-Hungary before the war. A small strip of territory in East Prussia along the Baltic Sea was placed under Lithuanian control. The fact that these territories harbored a significant German population formed a basis for Hitler to trump-up concern for their welfare and as a pretext to demand territorial concessions The run-up to World War II was characterized by Hitler efforts to regain control over the regions annexed by the treaty.

The angry reaction by the Germans to the treaty also formed the basis for World War II. The treaty which was made public across German newspapers outraged most people who came to view it vicious and unjust. The German people who also agree they had lost the war believed that the allies would be considerate by basing the treaty along the thoughts of President Wilson's Fourteen Points which advocated for fair handling of Germany. The treaty printed on newspapers differed in a great way from Wilson's Fourteen Points. The outrage by the Germans was also directed at their government for accepting such as a treaty. The reaction to the treaty would later stir a feeling of resentment to the allied nations and their government. The fascist government of Hitler warns support as they capitalized on this resentment to the burdens imposed by the Allied powers.

The Treaty of Versailles had a devastating effect on the Germany economy. Before World War I, the German economy was reliant on overseas trade and commerce, iron and coal ores as well as on transport and tariff system. Taking of German territory meant taking away of the main means of transporting goods to other nations and hence could not export many goods. It also stands out to reason that the nation had to pay for her trade to be carried to and from other nations. The treaty also required that German should not charge customs duties on imports hence denying it a huge source of income. The treaty harmed the economy in that it also interfered with the iron and coal supplies. The territories of Alsace-Lorraine which contained up to seventy-five percent of Germany's iron ore were taken over by France. Moreover, Saar Basin and Upper Silesia which had a majority of German's coalfield given up. Loss of coal meant a reduction in locomotive transport and rationing of electricity in factories. The economic impact was also evident in the request by the treaty that Germany pay 6.6 billion British pounds in reparations. Having just come out of the war which had taken four years, the country's coffers were empty, and thus Germany was unable to pay. It thus followed that the raw materials and industrial centers in the Ruhr Valley were seized by the French and Belgium troops to serve as partial payment. The foreign powers took control of mines and factories. The German workers in the region refused to cooperate under the instructions of the government and were thus driven into unemployment. In order to pay off the war debt and support out-of-work citizens, the German government increased its printing of paper money This led to hyperinflation as the value of currency plummeted - the fascism government promise to tackle unemployment and revive the economy of Germany. Moreover, Hitler's claim of achieving autarky which attempted to make Germany self-sufficient stemmed from the realization that under the treaty other countries had greatly affected it and hence become independent was the solution.

Treaty of Versailles demanded of Germany. The disarmament provisions of the Armistice in November 2018 required that Germany limit its army to 100000 men. To prevent the future buildup of reserves, officers were required to serve for twenty-five years and men for twelve. The navy vessels were restricted to under 10000 tons with a ban on acquisition and or maintenance of a submarine fleet. The treaty also forbade German from keeping an air force. The treaty also maintained that only a sufficient armament for the small army be retained and the rest of the German arsenal be destroyed under the supervision of the allied forces. Other provisions required that Germany conduct a war crime proceeding against Kaiser and other leaders responsible for waging an aggressive war. In the trials which that lacked Kaiser, many were acquitted. Rhineland was demilitarized, and no German military forces or fortifications were allowed there. Upon ascending to power, Hitler capitalized on the demilitarization stipulated in the treaty to restore military in Germany. Hitler declared the restoration of enlistment and the expansion of the German army. Some of the efforts included the naval pact with Britain which allowed it to expanded its naval strength up to thirty-five percent of the British naval capacity. In 1936 Hitler continued expansion sought to reverse the provision of the Treaty of Versailles by ordering re-militarization of the Rhineland. Rearmament by Hitler's government was also responsible for economic growth as well as alleviating poverty. The rearmament was done in a greatly enlarged and aggressive version. Re-militarization was also hinged on recovering Germany's lost pride which had been lost by the Weimer Republic caving into demilitarization. Up until the onset of World War II in 1939, Hitler was openly defiant and rejected the militarization restriction set forth by the Treaty of Versailles It is thus evident that the slow defiant of the treaty in the early 1930s was aimed to prepare the German economy for total war.

The paper has looked at some reasons that attributed to Treaty of Versailles having led to World War II. The treaty gave a reason to the Hitler government to push ahead in an aggressive course. The treaty which angered the German people gave a chance for the widespread support of the Nazi which aligned its propaganda along the outrage. The territorial division allowed the Nazi to call for the welfare of German in those territories hence justifying their annexation. Moreover, the cumulative effect the treaty had on the economy was hard. By taking over coal and iron ore fields and successfully revitalizing the economy created support for the Nazi government. Additionally, the rearmament stipulated in the treaty embarrassed Germans hence justifying the aggressive nature of remilitarization that eventually led to WW2.


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Evans, Richard J. The coming of the Third Reich. Vol. 1. Penguin, 2005.

Feuchtwanger, Edgar Joseph. From Weimar to Hitler: Germany, 1918-33. Springer, 1993.

MacMillan, Margaret. Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World. New York: Random House, 2007.

Sharp, Alan. "The enforcement of the treaty of Versailles, 1919-1923." Diplomacy and Statecraft 16, no. 3 (2005): 423-438.

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